ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A widow urged New York’s highest court Thursday to reinstate a lawsuit involving a television episode featuring her husband’s treatment and death at a New York hospital.
The “NY Med” show included a segment about Mark Chanko, who was brought into the emergency room at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in April 2011 after he was hit by a truck while crossing a street near his home on the Upper East Side. Though unidentified with his image blurred, Chanko could be heard, at one point asking, “Did you speak to my wife?”
Anita Chanko, who learned of the filming when it was broadcast in 2012, sued the hospital, treating physician and American Broadcasting Companies for violation of patient privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Her attorney Norman Olch argued before the Court of Appeals that the broadcasters didn’t have family permission to film, and there were cameras in the operating room. The conduct “shocks the sense of decency and propriety,” he said.
“ABC is right in there, working with the physicians, working with the doctors, to breach this person’s confidential relationship with the doctor,” Olch said.
ABC’s lawyer Nathan Siegel said the network tried not to reveal Chanko’s identity and when that didn’t work immediately corrected it with deletions.
“There are all kinds of situations where journalists report information that is confidential to somebody else,” Siegel said. “The vast majority of the people depicted on these shows have given consent. Why that didn’t happen in this particular case, I don’t know.”
Attorney Michael Cohen, who represents the hospital and Dr. Sebastian Schubl, a surgical resident who diagnosed Chanko, said that his heart stopped three times and he was given drugs for pain and sedation and that he died 54 minutes after he arrived at the hospital.
“The notion that he noted among the team of trauma physicians and nurses attending him that there may have been others holding cameras elsewhere in the room is remote, or that he was damaged, harmed or upset by that is even more remote,” Cohen said.
The Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents New York City’s hospitals, last year asked them to end filming patients for entertainment purposes without their permission following criticism about this case, ProPublica reported.